On July 27, devastating floods swept through eastern Kentucky, resulting in a total of 39 deaths and leaving many residents with nothing. First responders, charitable organizations and volunteers from neighboring states entered the impacted area to assist with this disaster. Brenda Racke, Senior Lab Associate at LyondellBasell Cincinnati Technology Center, was one of them.
Racke responded with the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief team to Hazard, a city located in Perry County. Hazard is four hours away from where she lives. She left at 4 a.m. Monday, August 8 and returned home late August 14. She went on a second trip on August 19 – 21 to assist even more victims.
“As with any disaster, you have to be very fluid in what you are asked to do,” said Racke. Upon arrival, she was assigned to the front registration desk, taking information, directing residents on where they could get the type of assistance they needed. “For some, it was housing, others needed help with removing the mud and wet sheetrock/insulation. Some just needed a place to do laundry and get a hot shower after working all day.”
The site of the volunteer team was equipped with shower and laundry units. People would drop off their laundry, and volunteers would wash, fold and return it the next day. Throughout the week, she assisted with laundry, cleaning of shower units, loading cases of water and providing a sympathetic ear for people to tell their story.
During her service week, Racke and her team together assisted approximately 200 families per day, averaging 100 loads of laundry and 75 showers per day.
She has been devoted to disaster volunteer activities for 35 years. She has done hurricane relief, tornado relief and flood recovery in the past. “This event looked like all three had occurred,” said Racke. She will return again to help paint and rebuild the damaged homes.